Friday, July 14, 2017

A Defense of Calvinism


"The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.

It is a great thing to begin the Christian life by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have received twenty different "gospels" in as many years; how many more they will accept before they get to their journey's end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that He early taught me the gospel, and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples.

When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. Why, if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time, I would scarcely be at all grateful for it; but when I know that those whom God saves He saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that He gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that He settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love, and that He will bring them to His everlasting kingdom, oh, then I do wonder, and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!

I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free-will. I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the doctrines of sovereign grace. Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought, if God had left me alone, and had not touched me by His grace, what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin, dived into the very depths of evil, nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners, if God had let me alone.

I cannot understand the reason why I am saved, except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine grace. If I am not at this moment without Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit.

Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun, but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life-no, I rather kicked, and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when He drew me, for a time I did not run after Him: there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good.  It was He who turned my heart, and brought me down on my knees before Him.

Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me.

 One week-night, when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment- I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."

I am bound to the doctrine of the depravity of the human heart, because I find myself depraved in heart, and have daily proofs that in my flesh there dwelleth no good thing. If God enters into covenant with unfallen man, man is so insignificant a creature that it must be an act of gracious condescension on the Lord's part; but if God enters into covenant with sinful man, he is then so offensive a creature that it must be, on God's part, an act of pure, free, rich, sovereign grace. When the Lord entered into covenant with me, I am sure that it was all of grace, nothing else but grace.

When I remember what a den of unclean beasts and birds my heart was, and how strong was my unrenewed will, how obstinate and rebellious against the sovereignty of the Divine rule, I always feel inclined to take the very lowest room in my Father's house, and when I enter Heaven, it will be to go among the less than the least of all saints, and with the chief of sinners.

If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, "He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord." I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. "He only is my rock and my salvation."
Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, "God is my rock and my salvation."

What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ-the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification?

And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here.

I have my own Private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross..." 
Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon
 
Excerpts from Defense of Calvinism


sermonindex.com

Friday, July 7, 2017

Salvation by Grace through Faith

  "By grace are ye saved, through faith." Ephesians 2:8

SaintAugustine 

For what good work can a lost man perform, except so far as he has been delivered from perdition? Can they do anything by the free determination of their own will?
 
Again I say, God forbid. For it was by the evil use of his free-will that man destroyed both it and himself. For, as a man who kills himself must, of course, be alive when he kills himself, but after he has killed himself ceases to live, and cannot restore himself to life; so, when man by his own free-will sinned, then sin being victorious over him, the freedom of his will was lost. 

"For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." 2 Peter 2:19 This is the judgment of the Apostle Peter. And as it is certainly true, what kind of liberty, I ask, can the bond-slave possess, except when it pleases him to sin? For he is freely in bondage who does with pleasure the will of his master.

Accordingly, he who is the servant of sin is free to sin. And hence he will not be free to do right, until, being freed from sin, he shall begin to be the servant of righteousness. And this is true liberty, for he has pleasure in the righteous deed; and it is at the same time a holy bondage, for he is obedient to the will of God.
 
But whence comes this liberty to do right to the man who is in bondage and sold under sin, except he be redeemed by Him who has said, "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed?" John 8:36

And before this redemption is wrought in a man, when he is not yet free to do what is right, how can he talk of the freedom of his will and his good works, except he be inflated by that foolish pride of boasting which the apostle restrains when he says, "By grace are ye saved, through faith." Ephesians 2:8

Carlo Crivelli _ Google Art Project


Friday, June 30, 2017

Faith and Repentance

 
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”   Mark 1:14-15


Excerpt from Faith and Repentance:
Sinclair Ferguson 
"Here repentance and faith belong together. They denote two aspects in conversion that are equally essential to it. Thus, either term implies the presence of the other because each reality (repentance or faith) is the sine qua non of the other.
In grammatical terms, then, the words repent and believe both function as a synecdoche—the figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole. Thus, repentance implies faith and faith implies repentance. One cannot exist without the other.

But which comes first, logically? Is it repentance? Is it faith? Or does neither have an absolute priority? There has been prolonged debates in Reformed thought about this. Each of three possible answers has had advocates:

First, W. G. T. Shedd insisted that faith must precede repentance in the order of nature: “Though faith and repentance are inseparable and simultaneous, yet in the order of nature, faith precedes repentance” (Dogmatic Theology, 2.536). Shedd argued this on the grounds that the motivating power for repentance lies in faith’s grasp of the mercy of God. If repentance were to precede faith, both repentance and faith would be legal in character, and they would become prerequisites for grace.

Second, Louis Berkhof appears to have taken the reverse position: “There is no doubt that, logically, repentance and the knowledge of sin precede the faith that yields to Christ in trusting love” (Systematic Theology, p. 492).
Third, John Murray insisted that this issue raises
an unnecessary question and the insistence that one is prior to the other is futile. There is no priority. The faith that is unto salvation is a penitent faith and the repentance that is unto life is a believing repentance … saving faith is permeated with repentance and repentance is permeated with saving faith. (Redemption—Accomplished and Applied, p. 113).
This is, surely, the more biblical perspective. We cannot separate turning from sin in repentance and coming to Christ in faith. They describe the same person in the same action, but from different perspectives. In one instance (repentance), the person is viewed in relation to sin; in the other (faith), the person is viewed in relation to the Lord Jesus. But the individual who trusts in Christ simultaneously turns away from sin. In believing he repents and in repenting believes. Perhaps R. L. Dabney expressed it best when he insisted that repentance and faith are “twin” graces (perhaps we might say “conjoined twins”).

But having said this, we have by no means said everything there is to say. Entwined within any theology of conversion lies a psychology of conversion. In any particular individual, at the level of consciousness, a sense of either repentance or trust may predominate. What is unified theologically may be diverse psychologically. Thus, an individual deeply convicted of the guilt and bondage of sin may experience turning from it (repentance) as the dominant note in his or her conversion. Others (whose experience of conviction deepens after their conversion) may have a dominant sense of the wonder of Christ’s love, with less agony of soul at the psychological level. Here the individual is more conscious of trusting in Christ than of repentance from sin. But in true conversion, neither can exist without the other.

Yes, repentance and faith are two essential elements in conversion. They constitute twin graces that can never be separated. As John Calvin well reminds us, this is true not only of the beginning but of the whole of our Christian lives. We are believing penitents and penitent believers all the way to glory."

Scottish Preacher, Writer, Theologian
Sinclair Ferguson
 
For complete article: 
http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/faith-and-repentance/

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

False Disciples


 Photo: R. Huggins (Public Domain Creative Commons)

The Pathology of False Disciples ~ John MacArthur

John 6:60-71

“Therefore, many of his disciples when they heard this said, ‘This is a hard, difficult statement.  Who can listen to it?’  But Jesus, conscious that his disciples grumbled at this, said to them, ‘Does this cause you to stumble?  What then if you see the son of man ascending to where he was before?  It is the spirit who gives life.  The flesh profits nothing.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.’”

“For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who it was who would betray him.  And he was saying, ‘For this reason, I have said to you that no one can come to me unless it has been granted him from the father.’  As a result of this, many of his disciples withdrew and were not walking with him anymore.  So Jesus said to the 12, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have believed and have come to know that you are the holy one of God.’”

“Jesus answered them, ‘Did I myself not choose you, the 12, and yet one of you is a devil?’  Now he meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot for he, one of the 12, was going to betray him.” 

The notable statement in this section I just read is in verse 66 where it says that many of his disciples withdrew and were not walking with him anymore.  And the original language indicates this is the final decision.  They were over it, whatever it was that drew them to him.  And the pain is manifest in the heart of Jesus over this defection.  You see it in verse 67 where he pensively says, “You do not want to go away also, do you,” when speaking to the 12.

 I can’t comprehend the pain that our Lord suffered over the defection of these disciples, these students of his who turned their back finally and went away, but I do know in some small measure this difficult reality in ministry.  Biblical ministry, gospel ministry, certainly pastoral ministry has a sadness to it that never goes away, and frankly, it accumulates the longer you do it, and it is the heartbreaking reality that people come, and people hear, and people stay, and sometimes people actually profess, and then they turn their backs on the Lord Jesus Christ and eternal life and plunge back into their sin and leave.

I’ve seen it constantly in all the years of ministry, both here and beyond.  It’s not rare.  It’s not rare.  Normal is what it is.  It’s the nature of ministry to see people who come and hear and stay for some measure of time, and leave and turn their backs on the gospel.  It is the most painful of all spiritual experiences.  It is the most discouraging of all.  Not just because you don’t get a return on the investment you made.  Not because they forsake the preacher.  Not because they forsake the people, but because they forsake the Lord.  The only hope of salvation, the only hope of heaven.  It is so severe that there is one particular book in the Bible that more than any other warns against doing this, and it is the book of Hebrews, and I want you to turn to Hebrews for a moment.

There are throughout the book of Hebrews a series of warnings, and they are warnings to people who have identified in some way with a group of believers.  They have come.  They have listened.  They have stayed.  They have gotten involved.  They’ve even paid a price for that association, but they don’t really believe, and so they defect.  This issue is so much on the heart of the writer of this epistle and the Holy Spirit who inspired it that there appear scattered throughout the book these severe warnings, starting very early in the book in Chapter 2, and in Chapter 10, and that’s where I want you to look, Hebrews 10.

Now what we have here are people who had heard the gospel.  They had heard it from those who were with Jesus.  They heard it from people whose preaching was tested by signs and wonders, miracles.  They were interested enough to stay.  They associated with this church.  Their hearts had been drawn and warmed, but they’re in danger of walking away.  They’re short of faith.  They haven’t yet genuinely believed.  And so if you look at Verse 23, you have a very direct statement that sort of launches this portion here.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.”  It is to those wavering people that this warning is rendered.  Don’t let go of the confession you’ve made.  This is a warning against the most severe sin that any person can commit.  It’s the sin of apostasy.  That is the sin of knowing the truth and rejecting it when you know it.

I suppose we think that the hottest hell is reserved for the people who committed the most heinous crimes, and that would be correct.  What we don’t sometimes understand is the most heinous crime is to reject the gospel with full knowledge.  Far worse than any Hitlerian crime.  That is the ultimate crime, as we will see in this passage.

So the warnings are very serious and very severe.  If you go down to verse 26, we’re introduced to what apostasy is, for if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, that’s what it is.  What does “go on sinning” mean?  Go on sinning by not believing.  The ultimate sin that dams everybody is the sin of what?  Unbelief.  Every other sin is forgiven when you believe.  Every other sin.  So if you go on sinning by not believing, by rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ, if you will not receive the knowledge of the truth, gospel truth, that is apostasy.  Willful, deliberate, intentional continuation in a life of sin that does not embrace the truth.

That’s the warning.  You’ve heard it as these people to whom he writes heard, but you willfully continue in the same path.  That’s what it is.  That’s what apostasy is.  Here are the results of it.  First, there’s no longer any sacrifice for your sin.  If you reject the only sacrifice, there is no other sacrifice.  There is no other provision for salvation.  None.  There’s only one name under heaven whereby men can be saved.  That’s the name of Jesus Christ.  He alone is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is the one who offered the one offering that God accepted to perfect forever those that believe.

So if you reject him, there is no longer any other sacrifice to which you can turn, no other offerings satisfy God.  So what happens as a result of that?  You are left unforgiven, and Verse 27 says, “What awaits you is a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.”  No more sacrifice for sin is available, and you are turned over to terrifying judgment eternally.

And then he adds something else.  Verse 28.  Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  You break the law of Moses, and you die.  How much severer punishment, Verse 29, do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the son of God and regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant, the blood he shed on the cross by which he was sanctified, set apart unto God is the only acceptable sacrifice, and has insulted the spirit of grace.

How severe is that punishment?  You are turned over in Verse 30 to the Lord who will judge his people.  Vengeance is mine.  I will repay.  This unbelief, this rejection of the gospel, this trampling of the son of God is a sin against the trinity.  You trample the son of God, you insult the Holy Spirit, and you so violate God who said, “This is my beloved son.  Listen to him that you come under his full wrath.”  That’s why Verse 31 says it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Not believing the gospel is a sin against the trinity.  Massive sin of such epic proportions that the most severe punishment in hell is reserved for those who do that.  That’s sin.  That’s sin.  In light of that, there’s a plea starting in Verse 32 not to do that.  And here are some deterrents.  Remember the former days when you were enlightened.  Remember the former days when you were enlightened.  Remember your interest originally in the gospel.  Remember how wonderful the message was when you first heard it.  Remember how hopeful you were when you heard about a sacrifice for sin, and you heard about the promise of heaven.  Remember.

There are some of you this morning – and this is the first time you’ve been here, maybe be the last.  Because of what you’re going to hear, you’re not going to like me, and because I’m going to tell you what Jesus said, you may have a different view of him and not like him either.

This may be the beginning and the end.  There are others of you who have been here a while that you’ve been thinking you’ve had enough of this, you’re over it.  Whatever the original attraction was is gone.  You’re over this.  You don’t want this in your life.  You don’t believe.  You’re not really willing to give up your sin.  And you’re about to go, and maybe for some of you, this might be the last Sunday.  There are some of you who are still in the throes of trying to make that decision, but down the road, you’ll turn your back and walk away and shrink back to destruction.

And if you don’t think that’s a heartache beyond measure, you’re wrong.  But as sad as it is to me and those who serve you, equally sad as it is to those in your world who love you, it is far more sad for your sake because of what that means eternally.  This issue is an issue that got far beyond John 6, but let’s go back to that point.  This is reality in ministry.  This is why ministry is this two-edged sword.  You minister over a long period of time, many, many years, and you accumulate the joy of faithful true believers, and you accumulate the sorrows of unfaithful defectors.  So you’re always kind of living in the tension of those things.

Would be easy to say the longer you minister, the more you see of the grace of God, and that would be absolutely true, but the more you minister, the more you see of those who turn their backs to the grace of God and walk away.  There’s a sadness, and I know that sadness, and the Lord knew it far, far beyond anything I could ever comprehend. 
 

View John MacArthur's complete sermon here:


Preached February, 2014
Expository Teaching Series: John 6
Complete Transcript:  https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-39


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Preaching an Exclusive Gospel


Steven Lawson

Regardless of the cultural currents of the day, and regardless of the changing of the times, he must be persuaded that faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only way of salvation. From Genesis to Revelation, the whole Scripture speaks with one voice, testifying that there is not one drop of saving grace outside the cross of Jesus Christ. Though the world is constantly changing, this truth of salvation in Christ alone never changes.

No preacher can afford to be wrong at this point, as though the gospel can ever be adapted. To be wrong about the gospel is to be wrong everywhere else that truly matters. To be wrong here is to stand in opposition to the saving mission and sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ. To be wrong here is to contradict the meaning of the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ. To be wrong here is to divert souls away from the only way that leads to God and to usher them onto the broad path that leads to destruction.

The very essence of the gospel itself demands that every pulpit guard its exclusivity. When the message of the cross is rightly defined, the singularity of the saving purposes of God is automatically established. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone—period, end of paragraph, end of discussion. To this truth, the Bible has a “zero tolerance” policy for any equivocation outside of its borders.

This cuts against the grain of the spirit of this age. In this postmodern world, tolerance is the new virtue. An acceptance of every opinion about religion and morality is applauded. We find ourselves preaching in a postmodern culture in which there are no moral absolutes. What is truth for one person may not be truth for another. In this complex maze of competing worldviews today, every philosophy and ideology has some contribution to make to contribute to the larger body of knowledge.

This eclectic approach to finding the truth may look attractive to some. But the Scripture is adamant that truth is absolute. Further, it asserts that Jesus Christ is the only way to find acceptance with God.

This exclusive nature of the gospel desperately needs to be guarded. So-called efforts to contextualize the gospel today often result in its disappearance. In many cases, the issue is not what is being said from the pulpit, but what is not said. A gospel message that does not present Jesus as the only way is not the gospel message. The singular nature of the Christian gospel must be proclaimed with conviction and clarity. To be sure, there is no other way of salvation.

The apostle Paul addresses this very issue in the opening section of his letter to the Galatians. In the churches of this region, the gospel had come under siege. The message of salvation had been conflated with another gospel, which is, Paul says, no gospel at all. The message of saving grace of God in Christ had come under attack and was no longer being preached as Paul had delivered it.

Within the churches of Galatia, false teachers known as Judaizers were mixing law with grace and fusing works with faith. These defilers of the gospel claimed that salvation must be earned by keeping the law and that sanctification was achieved through the works of the flesh. These perverters of the promises of God sought to change the good news into claiming that salvation was not a gift for the guilty, but a reward for the righteous. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In light of these damning distortions, the apostle Paul could no longer remain quiet. He penned a fiery letter to the Galatians in order to fight the noblest fight any preacher could undertake. Paul contended for the faith, that salvation solely comes through the grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

In the opening verses of Galatians, Paul minces no words. He breathes holy fire. He tells all corrupters of the gospel they are going to hell. He is shocked with the Galatians, who have so quickly been duped by these false teachers. Paul must speak directly to the believers in Galatia and confront them with this present danger at hand. He does not try to win them over by emphasizing the common ground between the gospel of Christ and this “different gospel” (v. 6). He does not say it is merely a matter of simatics. Instead, he goes straight to the heart of the matter: this gospel is a false message.

Such words need to be proclaimed today by every man who stands before an open Bible to declare its truths. The gospel is not subject to negotiation. Those who think so are, in Paul’s words, “accursed.” This is all the more reason that the whole gospel of Christ—including its exclusive nature—must be heralded by every preacher.




Excerpt from Preaching an Exclusive Gospel in an Inclusive Age
Read more at One Passion Ministries 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sinners in The Hands of An Angry God

"There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God."

Jonathan Edwards 
Excerpts 
 
By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God's mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. 

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands.-He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defense from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. 

They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. 
John 3:18  "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23,  "Ye are from beneath." And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him. 

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell. So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off.

For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;" but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature...

 It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them.

God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail. 

God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

 ...thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment.
Luke 12: 4-5  "And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear Him."

Library of Congress, Rare Books Div, NY Public Library

 
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, and the Rare Books Division, the New York Public Library.




 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Wrath of God

Martin Lloyd-Jones

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. - Ephesians 2:3
We now come to look at the apostle's final statement about man in sin; and that is, that he is under the wrath of God. In other words Paul deals with sin, as sin affects man's standing before God. He shows what God says and thinks and does about man in that condition which we have already considered: There can be no question at all but that this is the most important aspect of the subject. The others were vitally important, but there is nothing which is as important as this. It is because we so constantly forget this that the world is as it is today - and indeed that the Church is as she is. We are so self-centered and concerned about ourselves that we fail to remember that the most important thing above all else is the way in which God looks down upon it all. That is the subject with which we now have to deal.

The apostle puts it like this. He says that "we were all by nature the children of wrath, even as others". Here we have a twofold statement. And there is no doubt at all but that these two matters that we are compelled to look at together are two of the most difficult and perplexing subjects in the whole realm and range of biblical doctrine. That is why they have often led to great misunderstanding, and are subjects which people often in their ignorance not only fail to understand but bitterly resent. There is no subject, perhaps, which has more frequently led people to speak - albeit unconsciously - in a blasphemous manner, than this very matter which we are now going to consider. The apostle says two things: that we are all under the wrath of God; and secondly that we are all under the wrath of God by nature.

Why should we examine these things? Someone may well ask that question. Why spend our time on a subject like this, a difficult subject? There are so many other things that are interesting at the present time and attracting attention. Why not deal with them? And in any case, amid all the problems that confront the world, why turn to something like this?

Well, lest there be someone who is harbouring some such idea, and is provoked to put such a question, let me suggest certain reasons why it behoves us to consider this matter. The first is that it is part of Scripture. It is here in the Bible and, as we shall see, it is everywhere in the Bible. And if we regard the Bible as the Word of God, and our authority in all matters of faith and conduct, we cannot pick and choose; we must take it as it is and consider its every part and portion.

Secondly, we must do so because what we are told here is, after all, a question of fact. It is not theory, it is a statement of fact. If the biblical doctrine of the wrath of God is true, then it is the most important fact confronting every one of us at this moment; infinitely more important than any international conference that may be held, infinitely more important than whether there is to be a third world war or not. If this doctrine is true, then we are all involved in it, and our eternal destiny depends upon it. And the Bible states everywhere that it is a fact.

Another reason for considering it is this: that the apostle's whole argument is that we can never understand the love of God until we understand this doctrine. It is - the way in which we measure the love of God. There is a great deal of talk today about the love of God, and yet were we truly to love God, we would express it, we would show it. To love God is not merely to talk about it; to love God, as He Himself points out constantly in His Word, is to keep His commandments and to live for His glory. The argument here is that we really cannot understand the love of God unless we see it in the light of this other doctrine which we are now considering. So it is essential from that standpoint.

Why did Christ die? Why had He to die? If we say that we are saved by His blood, why are we saved by His blood? Why was it essential that He should die on that cross and be buried and rise again before we could be saved? There is only one adequate answer to these questions, and that is this doctrine of the wrath of God. The death of our Lord upon the cross is not absolutely necessary unless this doctrine is true. So, you see, it is a vital matter for us to consider.

Why is it that people do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Why is it that people are not Christians and not members of the Christian Church? Why does the Lord Jesus Christ not come into their calculations at all? In the last analysis there is only one answer to that question: they do not believe in Him because they have never seen any need of Him. And they have never seen any need of Him because they have never realized that they are sinners. And they have never realized that they are sinners because they have never realized the truth about the holiness of God and the justice and the righteousness of God; they have never known anything about God as the judge eternal and about the wrath of God against the sin of man. So you see this doctrine is essential in evangelism. If we really believe in salvation and in our absolute need of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must start with this doctrine. There, then, are the reasons for considering it. The apostle supplies them; I am simply repeating them.

The first thing the apostle says is that all who are born into this world are under the wrath of God. He says we "were all the children of wrath, even as others"; we were all the children of wrath, as the rest of mankind - that is what "even as others" means. Here we come face to face with this tremendous doctrine which I know full well is not only unpopular at the present time but is even hated and detested. People can scarcely control themselves as they speak about it.

The whole modern idea has been for a number of years, that God is a God of love and that we must think of God only in terms of love. To talk about the wrath of God, we are told, is utterly incompatible with any idea of God as a God of love.
Wrath is nothing but a manifestation of indignation based upon justice. Indeed, we can go further and assert that the wrath of God, according to the scriptural teaching, is nothing but the other side of the love of God. It is the inevitable corollary of the rejection of the love of God. God is a God of love, but God is also and equally a God of justice and of righteousness; and if God's love is spurned and rejected there remains nothing but the justice and the righteousness and the wrath of God.

In the Old Testament it is to be found at the very beginning. When man fell in the garden of Eden, God visited and spoke to him and pronounced judgment upon him. He drove him out of the garden, and there at the eastern gate of the garden He placed the cherubim and the flaming sword. What is the meaning of the flaming sword? It means just this very thing; it is the sword of God's justice, it is God's sword of wrath and of punishment, punishing man for his sin and making it impossible for him to come back and eat of the tree of life and live for ever. There, at the very beginning, is a manifestation of God's righteous judgment and His wrath upon sin. It is to be found running right through the Old Testament: in the story of the flood, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and in the various punishments of the children of Israel, whether as a nation or as individuals. The Old Testament is full of this. God has given His law and He has pronounced that if men break it He will punish them - that is His wrath. And when they have done so He has punished them. He has punished individuals, He has punished the nation, even His own chosen people. He punished them, He poured His wrath upon them by raising up the Chaldean army which came and sacked Jerusalem and carried away the people as captives into Babylon. That was a manifestation of the wrath and the righteous judgment of God. It is everywhere in the Old Testament; you really cannot believe the Old Testament unless you accept this doctrine of the wrath of God.

When you come to the New Testament, in spite of all that modern critics would have us believe, the doctrine is again present everywhere. The first preacher in the New Testament is John the Baptist. What did he say? He said, "Flee from the wrath to come"; "Repent and be baptised every one of you, flee from the wrath to come". The Pharisees came to be baptised of John, and he looked at them and said, "Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" It was his great message.

Indeed it was the message of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. But, and most surprising of all, we find it in the verse that is generally quoted as the supreme statement of God as a God of love - John 3: 16, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son". Why did He do so? The answer is "that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". The alternative to everlasting life is perishing. And it is John 3: 16 that teaches it. But the thirty - sixth verse of that third chapter of John is still more plain, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him". In other words, all men are under the wrath of God, and unless we believe on the Son of God the wrath of God abides upon us. What can be more plain or explicit? There it is in the Gospel of John ~ the apostle of love.

So it is quite clear that the idea that love and wrath are incompatible is a complete denial of the plain teaching of the Scriptures. Indeed I would go so far as to say that unless we start with this idea of the wrath of God against sin we cannot possibly understand the compassion of God, we cannot understand the love of God. It is only as I realize God's wrath against sin that I realize the full significance of His providing a way of salvation from it. If I do not understand this I do not understand that, and my talk about the love of God is mere loose sentimentality which is indeed a denial of the great biblical doctrine of the love of God.

The apostle's teaching, then, is that until we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we are under the wrath of God. And the wrath of God is an expression of God's hatred of sin, an expression of God's punishment of sin. It is a clear statement to this effect, that if we die in our sins we go on to eternal punishment. That is the teaching of Scripture. The wrath of God against sin manifests itself finally in hell, where men and women remain outside the life of God in misery and wretchedness, slaves to their own lusts and desires, selfish and self-centered. The apostle's teaching is that that is the position of all who are not Christians. They are under the wrath of God in this life, they will remain under the wrath of God in the next life. That is the position of the sinner, according to Scripture.

 If you object to the idea you are objecting to the Scriptures, you are setting up some philosophic idea of your own contrary to their plain teaching. You are not arguing with me, you are arguing with the Scriptures. You are arguing with these holy apostles, you are arguing with the Son of God Himself If you believe that the Bible is divinely inspired, then you must not say, "But I don't understand". You are not asked to understand. I do not understand it, I do not pretend to understand it. But I start from this basis, that my mind is not only finite but is, furthermore, sinful, and that I cannot possibly understand fully the nature of God and the justice and the holiness of God.

If we are going to base everything on our understanding, then we might as well give up at this point. For the Bible tell us that "the natural man" and "the natural mind" cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God (I Corinthians 2). It was the desire to understand that led to the Fall. Intellectual pride and arrogance is the first and the last sin.

The business of preaching is not to ask people to understand; the commission of the preacher is to proclaim the message. And the message is that all are under the wrath of God until they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Excerpt from sermon: The Wrath of God 

young preacher Jones




Friday, June 9, 2017

Radical Corruption


R.C. Sproul:

In Reformed circles, the doctrine of original sin has often been described by the phrase “total depravity.” That it’s called “total depravity” is explained in one sense because the letter “T” fits so neatly into the historic acrostic TULIP, which defines the so-called “five points of Calvinism.”

Nevertheless, the word total with respect to our depravity may seriously mislead. It could suggest that our fallen natures are as corrupt and depraved as possible. But that would be a state of utter depravity.

I prefer to use the phrase “radical corruption” perhaps because the first initial of each word suits my own name and nature, R.C., but more so because it avoids the misunderstanding that results from the phrase “total depravity.”

 Radical corruption means that the fall from our original state has affected us not simply at the periphery of our existence. It is not something that merely taints an otherwise good personality; rather, it is that the corruption goes to the radix, to the root or core of our humanity, and it affects every part of our character and being.

The effect of this corruption reaches our minds, our hearts, our souls, our bodies — indeed, the whole person. This is what lies behind the word total in “total depravity.”

What is most significant about the consequences of the fall is what it has done to our ability to obey God. The issue of our moral capability after the fall is one of the most persistently debated issues within the Christian community. Virtually every branch of Christendom has articulated some doctrine of original sin because the Bible is absolutely clear that we are fallen from our created condition.

It all comes down to this, to the issue of moral ability... apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that God performs in the souls of the elect, no person in His own power is able to choose godliness, to choose Christ, or to choose the things of God. That ability to come to Christ, as our Lord Himself declared in John chapter 6, is an ability that can only be the result of the regenerating power of God the Holy Spirit.

Excerpt from  "Radical Corruption"

https://youtu.be/RvUpyxnqAow?list=PLL2lu_TzmMoq0rDc9cRcDqvFtO3BsThr2

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Election or Total Depravity?

Is It Election or Total Depravity That People Have a Problem With?  James Montgomery Boice
‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him’ (John 6:44)

“When people have trouble with election – and many do – their real problem is not with the doctrine of election, although they think it is, but with the doctrine of depravity that makes election necessary.”

“The question to settle is: How far did the human race fall when it fell?  Did man fall upward?  That is the view of secular evolutionists….  Did man fall part way but not the whole way, so that he is damaged by sin but not ruined?  That is the view of Pelagians or Arminians.  It affirms that we are affected by sin but insists that we nevertheless possess the ability to turn from it and believe in Christ when the gospel is offered – by our own power.

Or did man fall the whole way so that he is no longer capable of making even the smallest movement back toward God unless God first reaches down and performs the miracle of the new birth in him?  That is the view of Scripture.”

 “The Bible says that we are ‘dead in…transgressions and sins’ (Eph. 2:11).  
‘There is no one…who seeks God’ (Rom. 3:11).
 
Jesus declared, ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him’ (John 6:44). 

It is written in Genesis: ‘The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time’ (Gen. 6:5).”

“What good could God possibly foresee in hearts that are dead in transgressions and sins and inclined only to evil all the time?  What good could God anticipate in people who cannot come to him and do not even seek him unless he first draws them to himself.  If that is the situation, as the Bible says it is, then the only way any man or woman can be saved is by the sovereign election of God by which he first chooses some for salvation and then leads them to faith."

Excerpt from Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice (pp 16-17)


Monday, June 5, 2017

Chosen to Salvation

 "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth"  Paul the Apostle (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

There are three things here which deserve special attention. First, the fact that we are expressly told that God's elect are "chosen to salvation": Language could not be more explicit. How summarily do these words dispose of the sophistries and equivocations of all who would make election refer to nothing but external privileges or rank in service! It is to "salvation" itself that God has chosen us.

Second, we are warned here that election unto salvation does not disregard the use of appropriate means: salvation is reached through "sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" It is not true that because God has chosen a certain one to salvation that he will be saved willy-nilly, whether he believes or not: nowhere do the Scriptures so represent it. The same God who "chose unto salvation", decreed that His purpose should be realized through the work of the spirit and belief of the truth.

Third, that God has chosen us unto salvation is a profound cause for fervent praise. Note how strongly the apostle express this - "we are bound to give thanks always to God for you. brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation", etc. 
Instead of shrinking back in horror from the doctrine of predestination, the believer, when he sees this blessed truth as it is unfolded in the Word, discovers a ground for gratitude and thanksgiving such as nothing else affords, save the unspeakable gift of the Redeemer Himself. 
                                                                                                                             A.W. PINK



Friday, June 2, 2017

The Immutability of God

“I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  Malachi 3:6 
 
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, JANUARY 7, 1855,
BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON

IT has been said by someone that “the proper study of mankind is man.” I will not oppose the idea,
but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God. The proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. 
  
The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy which can ever engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. 

There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity ~ so deep that our pride is drowned in its infinity.

Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.”
 
But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb line cannot sound its depth and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thoughts that vain man would be wise. No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. 
...the most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of
Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so
enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And while humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory.
 
Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound! In musing on the Father, there is
a quietus for every grief and in the influence of the Holy Spirit there is a balsam for every sore. Would
you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity. And you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated.
  
I know nothing which can so comfort the soul, so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow,
so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.





For the entire sermon, visit: http://www.spurgeongems.org/